Designer’s Guide: How To Decorate Your Home with a Brown Color Palette
The brown color palette is an unexpected range of hues that remains in heavy rotation across the design. An oft-referred to colorway given that it can be found in everything from natural woods to ever-chic leathers, a brown color palette continues to inform the designs of everything from tropical buildings in Tulum, to ski huts in Italy, and the carefully-curated interiors of America’s most lauded designers. We’ve tapped some of the most skilled and legendary eyes in the industry to impart their knowledge on how to chicly integrate the powerful hue into any milieu. Additionally, Nest Casa’s Sara Colombo lends her design prowess and cultivated eye to the analysis of these exceptional spaces!
Although historic buildings of significance typically conjure images of dark, muted shades and staid milieus, these marvels call on a brown color palette that is anything but dull. In fact, these hues, when incorporated in a directional, intentional way, are a stunning force in the home decor sphere. Case in point? Legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House. Designed in 1935 as a private residence for the family of Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr., Fallingwater remains, to this day, one of Wright’s most widely-acclaimed works. A hallmark of his philosophy of organic architecture and the symbiotic relationship between art and nature, this home seamlessly incorporates a brown color palette. Ibuku, a visionary design firm that creates elegant living and commercial spaces inspired by nature, built this structure in Bali. A fantastical space shaped by nature and informed by sustainability, the brown color palette here culls inspiration from nature and the structure’s surrounding elements. Finally, these huts in Italy channel both muted and deep shades of brown to evoke a sense of both comfort and opulence. The cantilevering structure grows out of the hill, and immediately blends beautifully with the landscape. The interior is defined by a complex, curvilinear, and outstanding wood structure that gradually fades into walls.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, 1935
This National landmark, built in the 1930’s by Frank Lloyd Wright, was the first to explore the concept of “organic architecture.
Ibuku Bamboo Village in Bali
I came across this residential project in Bali while doing some research and was blown away with the size of the structures built using bamboo as the main material. The interiors of this building are every bit as impressive as its exterior.
Mountain Huts in Obereggen, Italy
The contrast of the hard lines of this structure and the extensive use of glass against the backdrop of the irregular and etched mountain range is very impactful.
These three projects underscore the fact that color remains one of the most dominant forces in our general perception of architecture. Renowned fashion house Moncler enlisted the help of Gilles et Boissier, the successful duo who run the eponymous architecture and design practice, to create sophisticated interiors that exude luxury, refinement, and a dash of unexpected eclecticism across the brand’s NYC flagship store. Their project focuses on evoking the feel of a grand Parisian apartment with a proper foyer. Louis-style, oiled-bronze pulls on the doors, a bronze Moncler logo set into the floor, and wall installations comprising tall, curved louvers that are backlit to radiate warmth to conjure a truly extravagant space. A surprisingly contemporary introduction within the four walls of a brand predicated upon tradition, this space is exciting in the best ways. The Six Senses Hotel Bhutan, for its part, epitomizes contemporary chic while underscoring sustainability. Offering sweeping views, its spacious interiors allude to notes of Bhutanese architecture, seen in the minimalist lines of the natural timber furniture, the presence of bukharis (traditional wood-burning stoves), and Himalayan rugs — all of which remarkably incorporate a brown color palette. Lastly, the Azulik Eco Resort Tulum works so well with the natural elements around it that, structurally, it seems to grow out of the land itself. Full of fluid shapes — from spiraling, elevated walkways to cozy nooks —, this space allows visitors a true sense of escapism from the formalities of a traditional hotel.
I really admire the work of the duo Gilles et Boissier and was first introduced to their work at a restaurant in Paris many years ago. The unique brand perspective of Moncler is really effectively executed in each of the retail store interiors.
Six Senses Hotel Bhutan
A place on my bucket list to visit is Bhutan. The country is so breathtaking and the interiors of the Six Senses do not try and compete with the natural beauty… they compliment.
Azulik Eco Resort Tulum
The now well-known destination of Tulum, Mexico has added an upscale venue for art, wellness, and gastronomy. Built to blend into its lush surroundings, the undulating curves and elevations make for a spectacular experience.
The B & B Italia design project reinterprets the stunning materiality and subtle forms of ancient wooden buildings in a modern key. Reminiscent of the design practices in the archipelago south of Stockholm, this project incorporates compositional versatility, natural comfort elements, and a brown color palette that, “ are the distinctive qualities of a timeless project.” The great designer Giancarlo Valle maintains: “Design is fundamentally about conversation — between styles, cultures, objects, and people.” In this project, Valle fuses great craftsmanship with contemporary elements and a remarkable brown color palette that harkens on natural woods to brighten a room and give it life. Robert Stilin uses a slightly variant approach in his intimate look at an eclectic trove of art and design pieces. In this space, walls boast an impressive accumulation of works. The furnishings, meanwhile, encompass everything from a coffee table that marries wood and glass, two offbeat chairs that recall different design movements, and a woven leather seat that evokes a dark, masculine vibe.
The B & B Design Project
This private home on Krokholmen Island is a wonderful example of organic architecture. The warm but contemporary feel of this home resonates from the natural materials used both inside and out.
Interior by Giancarlo Valle
Including furniture made of various woods weaves natural tones of brown throughout an interior; play with different species of woods and various grains to bring in texture.
Mixing shades of brown on upholstery items either with fabrics or leather adds dimension in texture while keeping the overall color palette neutral and elegant.